Here are several frequently asked questions regarding resume writing. However, don’t forget to follow through the Toolkit itself, to ensure you’ve covered all the important aspects of resumes.
Table of contents
Questions about specific information needed
1. Should I include:
b) my GPA?
Questions about what to include
Questions about how to describe things
Questions about resume & cover letter effectiveness
1. a) Should I include an objective?
Including an objective is optional, because the objective can be stated within the cover letter. If you include one, write 1 or 2 TAILORED sentences that include the company and position you are applying to and the key qualifications you have to offer. Instead of an objective, you can include a highlights section (see FAQ # 5).
b) Should I include my GPA?
You can include your GPA if it is strong and shows an accomplishment, or if you are applying to a position that requests you include your grades. To see sample resumes that include GPA, check out Des Mohammed's and Robert Wood's resumes here.
c) Should I include a list of courses?
A short list of relevant courses can point to any knowledge or aspects of your educational background that relate to the qualifications sought after by the employer. To see a sample resume that includes a list of relevant courses, check out Michelle Sommers’ resume here.
d) Should I include my interests?
A list of interests on your resume is optional. The interests you list can be a combination of career-related and personal interests. If you do include this information, be prepared to talk about these interests in an interview. To see a sample resume that includes a lot of interests, check out Larry Soo's resume here.
2. How many bullets should I use to describe an experience?
Try to limit your bullet points to three to five accomplishment statements for each job or project. Visit this page in the Toolkit to learn how to write your bullets.
3. How far back do I go for experience?
Employers are interested in your most recent experiences. Focus on the experiences you gained during university, or that go back about four or five years. Experiences from high school can generally be omitted unless you are in first or second year.
4. Is paid experience more important than unpaid?
Both paid and unpaid work experience can be valued by the employer, if you describe skills and achievements that are relevant to the position. Click here to view a sample qualifications matching chart.
When describing your experience, make sure you concentrate on your skills and accomplishments. Click here for more information.
5. How do I write a highlights section?
Think of three to four key skills/experiences that the employer wants and that you have. When composing your points, make sure you state the skill and give some supporting evidence to make the point concrete and evidence-based. This makes the point more convincing to the employer. To see samples of different styles of the highlights section, check out Des Mohammed's, Omar Choudary's and Vijay Patel's resumes here.
6. I have no (relevant) experience. What should I put on my resume?
Think relevant skills and knowledge, not just working at the exact same job. Check out the Assess Your Qualifications page in the Toolkit. Follow the steps on this page to ensure you have assessed all your experiences. You may be surprised to see how many skills you do have. Choose the skills that are most relevant to the employers of interest to you. Then decide on the format that highlights your most relevant skills and write bullets that demonstrate your skills. See FAQs #5, 7 and 8 for more information on these aspects.
If after following these steps you don’t feel you have enough material to work with, please come in to see a Career Counsellor or Employment Advisor. They can help you develop a plan to gain the experience you need.
7. How do I show my results or accomplishments?
Think about the actions or steps you took in particular projects or positions. Then think about the results of your actions. Describe these in one or two sentences, using action verbs. Where possible, use numbers to show the significance of your accomplishments. To see samples of effectively showing results and accomplishments, check out Larry Soo's and Vijay Patel's resumes here.
8. How can I make my resume stand out?
Employers pay attention to resumes that are relevant to their needs and are professional in their look and format. Use the checklist to see if you have covered the key points of an effective resume.
9. Can I send the same resume to different employers?
According to consistent employer feedback, each resume you submit should be tailored to each position and employer. This means showing how your skills and qualifications fit with those the employer seeks. Check out the "Job Posting" samples here to see how you can match your skills with what the employer is looking for, and then see how these skills are outlines in the resume and cover letter.
10. What else can I do for my job search?
Check out the Career Centre page on Work Search Strategies for your work search.
11. How do I know if my resume and cover letter is good enough?
So much depends on the competition, but you can use the resume and cover letter checklists available here to ensure you have done the best job possible.
12. Where can I find sample resumes and cover letters?